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Austria's healthcare system got a long-anticipated makeover. After years of small-scale adjustments, a collective amendment – the "Vereinbarungsumsetzungsgesetz 2024" ("VUG 2024" or the "reform") – has brought a new wave of changes somewhere revolutionising healthcare in Austria. The VUG 2024 refers to a comprehensive and coordinated change made to a total of 13 legal matters, which are being modified together as a unified act for a more holistic approach. This happens to be one of the biggest reforms in the healthcare sector in recent decades.

In March the European Commission approved a EUR 3bln (RON 15.22bln) Romanian scheme to support installations producing electricity from onshore wind and solar photovoltaic. The approval relates to an initiative launched for consultations by the Ministry of Energy in August 2023, aimed at implementing a Contracts for Difference (CfD) support mechanism for low-carbon technologies (the "CfD Scheme").

Schoenherr has advised Austrian green technology scale-up Neoom on the structuring and implementation of its "impact invest" customer financing scheme for decentralized energy projects as well as related project debt financing arranged by Solas Capital in an amount of up to EUR 30 million.

KWKR, working with Lippes Mathias, has advised Software Mind on obtaining a PLN 150 million financing from BNP Paribas Bank Polska and the subsequent acquisition of US-based company Prosoft in a transaction valued at almost USD 50 million. Dentons advised the lender. Schoenherr, working with Roetzel & Andress, reportedly advised on the loan agreement as well.

Montenegro's Law on Games of Chance (the "Law") was enacted in 2004 and has undergone multiple amendments since. The most recent ones came into effect on 1 January 2024. The aim of the amendments, as stated by the competent authorities, is to ensure a sustainable regulatory system for organising games of chance via the internet or other telecommunication means, as well as to generate additional revenue from these activities.

Schoenherr has advised Switzerland-based MET Group subsidiary Oberon Solar Park on its acquisition of 52 hectares of land in Kaba, eastern Hungary. Sole practitioner Zsolt Gaal reportedly advised an undisclosed agricultural entrepreneur on the sale.

Herbst Kinsky, working with Orrick, has advised the Terreal Group and its main shareholders on the antitrust aspects of the full sale of its businesses in Poland, Hungary, and Austria to Swisspor. Schoenherr advised Swisspor Holding on the acquisition.

It has started humbly, but 2024 is expected to be a year of interesting political developments. At a global level, there will be elections for the President of the United States and for the European Parliament. At a local level, in Bulgaria, a rotation of the government is expected, which means that, according to the preliminary agreements between the governing parties, the position of the Prime Minister will be taken by Mariya Gabriel (of the GERB party; currently at the position of Deputy Prime Minister), who will replace the current Prime Minister – Nikolay Denkov (of the We Continue the Change party) – in March. For now, it is still questionable whether this switch will trigger the termination of the mandate of some of the ministers.

As 2023 comes to a close, reflections on the year reveal challenges and achievements across Romania, Bulgaria, and Ukraine. Tuca Zbarcea & Asociatii Managing Partner Gabriel Zbarcea, Schoenherr Bulgaria Local Partner Ilko Stoyanov, and Avellum Managing Partner Mykola Stetsenko share their thoughts on what kind of a year it has been.

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